Hornbill Unleashed

September 7, 2014

Sarawak BN parties may clash over new seats after redelineation exercise

DESMOND DAVIDSON

Two major Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in Sarawak may be facing off over new constituencies which will be created following the Election Commission’s highly-anticipated redelineation exercise.Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) is eyeing at least two of the “three to four additional seats” from the redelineation exercise, while Parti Pesaka Bumiputera (PBB) wants more than half of the new seats.

PRS president Tan Sri Dr James Masing (pic) said that it is looking at Hulu Rajang as a possible constituency to redelineate, adding that he is pleased the constituency is being considered.

Hulu Rajang, the largest parliamentary constituency in the country, in terms of size has only two state seats – Baleh and Belaga – both held by PRS.

Another constituency for which Masing believes a redelineation could take place is the Dayak-majority seat of Sri Aman.

Though the Sri Aman constituency is smaller in size, the number of its electorates in 2013 was 29,789 and it has three state seats – Balai Ringin, Bukit Begunan and Simanggang.

Hulu Rajang and Sri Aman are two of the six parliamentary constituencies that the BN had allocated to the PRS.

However, in staking his claims, Masing is also facing up to the challenge from state BN chairman, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who believes his Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) “deserves at least half of the new seats”.

Adenan, who is also Sarawak chief minister, said PBB should get the majority of the new seats.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had late last year announced the EC would carry out a redelineation exercise to split constituencies with large number of voters.

He then also acknowledged the difficulties elected representatives of large, rural constituencies faced when trying to service these areas especially when transportation infrastructure was poor or non-existent.

Masing, who is also Sarawak’s Land Development Minister, had long pushed and prodded the EC to redelineate the Hulu Rajang constituency.

In 2013, the constituency, which is 31,817 sq km (almost as big as the state of Pahang), had 21,686 registered voters, with the Dayaks – the Orang Ulus and Ibans – making up 97% of the electorates, the Malays and Melanaus 2% and the Chinese only 1%.

In December last year, the party held a preliminary discussion with the state EC on such an exercise.

Masing then said the sheer size of the constituency had made servicing and administering it “very difficult and challenging”.

“The EC’s emphasis on redelineating more rural seats is correct,” Masing said.

“Large areas need more elected representatives to look after them. Thus putting more weightage to rural areas is a move in the right direction in terms of giving better service to rural folks.

“After all the BN government is a rural based government,” he said.

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1 Comment »

  1. The EC is duty bound to ensure that every new constituency has approximately equally number of voters so that every vote carried equal electoral votting value. Anything else is gerrymandering which is outright cheating. Gerrymandering is something that Dr Mahathir has admitted condoning for years for his UMNO party to remain in power in Malaya

    Comment by Kenny — September 8, 2014 @ 9:25 AM | Reply


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